Snowden leak: NSA recorded one nation’s every phone call

REUTERS/Gleb GaranichNothing is very far from National Security Agency snoops, including even old phone call conversations. The NSA has built a system capable of recording 100 percent of a foreign nation’s phone calls, and replaying them even after a month, reports the Washington Post. It successfully recorded every single call inside one unidentified nation in 2011, and stored the recordings in a rolling 30-day system, reports the Post.

The NSA operation, known as MYSTIC, was launched in 2009, according to documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and information from other sources. One source characterized MYSTIC’s RETRO (for “retrospective retrieval”) recording and storage system a “time machine.” The newspaper agreed to withhold details that could be used to identify the foreign nation targeted by the NSA for phone call recording, or others where RETRO is possibly being used, at the request of US officials.

The NSA refused to comment on specific aspects of the Post‘s story, but a spokeswoman for the National Security Council did say that the US must “collect … intelligence in bulk in certain circumstances in order to identify threats.” An NSA spokeswoman blasted the “detrimental” impact of such reporting.

US citizens’ conversations would undoubtedly be caught in such a massive phone-call net capturing all calls into and out of a nation, sources tell the newspaper. In any case, such an operation “seems inconsistent” (in the Post’s carefully chosen language) with US President Obama’s recent declaration that “that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security … and we take their privacy concerns into account.”

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